The Expendables 2
Director: Simon West
Writer: Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone
Sequel to: The Expendables
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Nan Yu, Liam Hemsworth, Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Charisma Carpenter
[Here’s my first review.]
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the rest of his crew (Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Jet Li and Liam Hemsworth) have just saved a Chinese businessman who was kidnapped, when Church (Bruce Willis) calls in a favor: they are supposed to retrieve something from a safe in a crashed plane in the Albanian mountains. To crack that safe, they need to take Maggie (Nan Yu) along (though Yin Yang [Jet Li] stays in China). What should be a very quick and not very eventful mission, goes south when Villain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) appears.
When I saw Expendables 2 for the first time, I finally watched the kind of film I wanted The Expendables (1) to be and it made me happy (I liked it so much I watched the first one again which I shouldn’t have). On second watch it isn’t quite as good anymore, but it is still above and beyond the first film.
It was one of the best filmmaking decisions in the history of filmmaking decisions to remove Stallone as the director. Because that means that you get at least basic acting from the cast, you get pacing that doesn’t suck completely and it infuses the injokes that fly left and right with enough self-awareness to actually make them entertaining. I laughed genuinely a couple of times (and I still love Chuck Norris’ scene or the one with the smart).
Plus, there were a couple of action scenes that were not bad (even if there is no way that Stallone would beat Van Damme in a fight). Especially the fight where Statham is dressed like a monk – that is really excellent.
But unfortunately Stallone still wrote the script, keeping the film firmly on the “so bad it’s good side” of things instead of the “actually any good” side. And occasionally there were things that just shouldn’t be in any movie. Like when they unceremoniously ditch Jet Li, because apparently you can’t have two Asians on one team. Or when yet another young, beautiful, smart woman lusts after old, greasy Stallone (he is just too old for that, I’m sorry).
But altogether it was fun to watch it. It isn’t the world’s greatest film, but it’s solid entertainment with some moments that are really good. On second watch, I’m just not that positively surprised anymore – and apparently my surprise about how much better it was than the first film was a huge part of my delight about it the first time I saw it.
Summarizing: I don’t think I’ll watch it a third time. But it’s still the best Expendables film.